Estate Agent guilty to £157k of fraud offences
Russell Baker a former estate agent has admitted that he is guilty of nine offences of fraud amounting to £157,250.
Mr Baker was investigated by Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service after several complaints from landlords relating to tenants deposits being registered and claims that rental income from tenants was being withheld.
One landlord had tried to sue the Mr Baker privately but he managed to convince the court that the debt was a company debt rather than a personal one so the court action failed.
According to the Exeter Daily News, the defendant’s financial dealings were hard to unravel because he arranged for all money to be paid to one of his limited companies which then went into the bank accounts of another of his limited companies.
The police became involved in the matter when Baker was alleged to have pocketed a client’s £22,500 deposit of a house purchase.
In total Baker pleaded guilty to amount to £157,250 worth of fraud.
Sentencing has been deferred to Monday 12th September, to allow Mr Baker time to provide restitution to all of the victims referred to on the indictment. That restitution process will be controlled by a restraint order made under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Devon & Somerset Trading Standards attribute much of the success of their investigation to the willingness of Bakers victims to come forward and provide evidence.
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Trading Standards member said: “Baker was unscrupulous in deceiving his customers and his friends. Initially some of victims didn’t see themselves as the victim of a crime, but in the end it was their willingness to support this investigation that has produced this successful conviction. This has been a complex process, involving hard work from our officers and also invaluable assistance from Devon & Cornwall Police”.
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